Roen Halley Kahalewai McDonald Hufford is a recipient of a 2023 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) - the highest honor the United States bestows on a traditional artist.
This honor is in recognition of Roen's unceasing efforts to reclaim and expand the Hawaiian art of ka hana kapa.
The National Heritage Fellowship is the highest distinction that the United States bestows upon a tradition bearer. This year Roen is among nine exemplary artists from across the United States being recognized for their excellence and the importance of the traditions they represent. The ceremony was held in Washington D.C. September 28 & 29, 2023.
2023 National Heritage Fellows
Back row left to right:
Luis Tapia, Wu Man, Elizabeth James-Perry, and
Front row left to right:
Joe De Leon Hernandez, Ed Eugene Carriere,
Roen Kahalewai Hufford, Michael Cummings
Roen's receipt of this national Fellowship is truly an affirmation of ka hana kapa as a living, breathing part of Hawai'i's cultural heritage. It is also a confirmation of the strength of legacy within families. Roen's mother Marie Leilehua McDonald received a National Heritage Fellowship in 1990 for her efforts to preserve and advance the art of Hawaiian leimaking. In the 1970s, Marie began a collaboration with a group of dedicated artisans to research kapa techniques, natural dyes and tools in order to bring kapa back to life and establish its community relevance. It is this legacy of shared effort that Marie handed onto Roen, and Roen continues to advance.
Click here for a link to the Feb 28, 2023 NEA press release where you can learn more about the National Heritage Fellowship program, this year's recipients, and those from past years.
Click here for a video of the award ceremony at the Library of Congress.
Click here for a listing of the remarkable National Heritage Fellows from Hawai'i. With nineteen recipients, Hawai'i is beautifully represented and Roen is in very esteemed and cherished company.